On Saturday August 26th, Hindu American Foundation Executive Director Suhag Shukla spoke at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, representing the Hindu American community at the 60th Anniversary Commemoration of the March on Washington.
Shukla addressed the audience with the following remarks:
In the Hindu tradition ‘Namaste’ is not a mere greeting. It’s an ancient call to action to recognize our shared humanity and an inherent divinity that unites us.
But somehow we perpetually fall short in remembering this unifying Truth. We build factions on differences, rather than alliances on commonalities. Where we come from, what we believe or who we love become not bridges to understanding and acceptance, but walls that demonize and exclude. The darkness of injustice prevails.
And just when it feels like that darkness has put out all light, the Universe sends a Messenger — great messengers like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, and countless others who inspired people around the world of all shades, beliefs, and walks of life, including my own grandfather in pre-Independence India, to march together for the cause of freedom and justice.
Different leaders, different places, different times. But the message has always been the same. Transcend difference, find common purpose, and stand up for justice.
As our nation faces a crisis of division and hate, we don’t have to wait for another Great Messenger. Each of us has the innate power to become messengers of empathy, equality and justice. Each of us can take actions, big and small, to make real Dr. King’s dream of a nation where we judge one another not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.
We are here today to continue Dr. King’s dream. He took the first step, others followed.
And now it’s our time. So as Hinduism’s first ambassador to America, Swami Vivekananda, so poignantly urged: “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.”
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.”